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On the Brink of Historic Daytona 500 Pole Mark, Bowman Credits Hendrick Team

Alex Bowman 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 qualifying Hendrick Motorsports Who has the most Daytona 500 poles

Alex Bowman has a chance to tie the all-time Daytona 500 pole record in Wednesday night's qualifying session. He enters the night with three career Daytona 500 poles. Photo Credit: Craig White,

Alex Bowman’s prolific qualifying efforts in the Daytona 500 have been well-documented. However, heading into Wednesday night’s Daytona 500 qualifying session, the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has the chance to reach truly rarified air.

If Bowman can turn the fastest lap in the session, it will mark his fourth-career Daytona 500 pole position, which would move him into a four-way tie for the all-time Daytona 500 pole lead with Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, and Buddy Baker.

While he sits on the precipice of history, Bowman isn’t getting swept up in it. Heading into Wednesday’s Daytona 500 Media Day, the Arizona native wasn’t even aware of the historic mark that he has a chance to achieve.

“I didn’t even know that,” Bowman laughed. “So that kind of shows you where I’m at.”

It’s an outstanding mark, which has only been achieved by three NASCAR Hall of Famers. Even so, Bowman chose to diminish the importance of him behind the wheel during his three pole-winning runs, and says that his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team is the true key to his success in Daytona 500 qualifying.

“I think it’s been really cool to be a part of what the 88 and 48 team has been able to do over the last six years, seven years for them, really. I don’t have much to do with it,” Bowman stated.

While Bowman continued to downplay his involvement in the six-consecutive front-row starting spots in the Daytona 500, you can’t argue with the fact that Bowman and his car has stood above the rest of the competition, including his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates in qualifying at Daytona. When something happens this many times, it can’t be a coincidence.

But, it’s a new year. And with the 2024 season comes changes for the bodies on the Ford Mustangs and Toyota Camrys in the field. With no practice taking place prior to qualifying, it leaves a lot of unknowns to be answered, and we won’t have any answers until cars are on the track turning hot laps.

“I don’t really know what to expect for tonight,” Bowman admitted. “Obviously, it’s a Hendrick Motorsports car and we’re down here to qualify, but without practice and without anything — different manufacturers with different bodies. Don’t really know what to expect. We’ll see how it goes. It’ll be fast or it won’t be.”

Despite the unknowns, Bowman says that he is a fan of less practice at Daytona, and he feels from a cost standpoint that the teams may be as well.

“I don’t know that it matters,” Bowman said of additional practice. “I think maybe the teams would want that, maybe they wouldn’t due to the cost side of things. It’s hard to say. There’s so much that goes into the Daytona 500 with the Duels and everything. I’m good without practice. I’m not a super huge fan of practice, but it is kind of weird not knowing what to expect at all.”

If he does score the pole, Bowman, for the fourth time, will have the unenviable task of trying to not destroy his Daytona 500 pole-winning car in the Bluegreen Vacation Duel qualifying race. When asked about what nerves are like heading into the Duel as a polesitter, Bowman fired a joke.

“You probably could just not [run the Duel], right,” Bowman quipped.

After delivering his line, Bowman agreed that being the Daytona 500 pole sitter does carry a certain level of stress heading into the Duels, but he also feels running the Duels is a necessary evil so you can learn how your car works in the draft for the Daytona 500.

“It is [nerveracking],” Bowman said. “Especially since we’ve gone to impound the last couple of years. Your car just drives terrible. Like heck, in qualifying last year, I couldn’t even run the bottom. I ended up in the top of [turns] 1 and 2 on my qualifying lap. They don’t drive well in qualifying trim in traffic. Knowing that you have to be smart about that for the 500 is tough, but you also want to learn what you can. But it’s a balance because you’re learning what you can with a car that is going to drive completely different than what you have on Sunday.”

It becomes a question of whether you would rather try to avoid chaos in the Duels while learning about your ill-handling qualifying-trimmed-out car in a pack, or would you prefer to conduct that science experiment on the biggest stage in NASCAR — the Daytona 500. When you think about it that way, Daytona 500 front-row starters attempting the Duels makes a lot of sense.

However, if Bowman has that problem to deal with this year, it means he has made even more history. It means he has secured a front-row spot for a record-extending seventh-straight Daytona 500, and there’s a chance it means he has scored a record-tying fourth Daytona 500 pole position.

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